Saturday, July 23, 2005

Vilifying Subsidies in Popular Culture

I was happy to see that in the super-funny (I'm not using the word "hilarious" only because it's overused on the internet) movie Wedding Crashers, the movie's primary antagonist is a guy who (to paraphrase) 'got the governor to subsidize a scallop fishery' (or something along those lines). Anyway, what I'm so happy about is that the subsidy-seeking is not crucial to the character's persona. Rather, it's just thrown in there, almost capriciously. Like they producers of the movie are saying to the audience, "Yeah, this guy's already a jerk, but on top of it all, he lobbies for increased subsidies!"

It's subtle, and most viewers probably didn't even notice it, but it was encouraging to see. After all, they could have made the antagonist a guy who works to eliminate trade restrictions (as a stereotypical "evil capitalist"), but they didn't. Those chose to vilify subsidies.

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fair is Fair?

"Fair is fair. There are too many individuals dying of heat here."
That is Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, as quoted in this MSNBC article. Here's what he's talking about:
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said his office was asking Congress to provide utility assistance for soaring cooling bills the same way it provides for heating bills in Eastern states.
Nice mentality--The taxpayers of the rest of the U.S. have to subsidize people living along the East Coast, so they should have to subsidize people living in Arizona.

Nobody likes extraordinarily hot weather, but I'm sure there are many Americans that would enjoy living in Arizona. Why should people in Wisconsin have to pay for people to live in what some would consider an almost perfect climate (besides the occasional extra-hot temperatures)? If air conditioning costs a lot because it's so hot in Arizona, then that's the price of admission. People in South Dakota don't get to enjoy the nice, dry Arizona heat; why should they have to pay for it?

Same for New England heating oil. Most people probably don't like New England winters as much as Arizona summers, but regardless, a high heating bill in New England is the price of admission. Don't like the cold? Move somewhere else. Hate the cold but love the New England charm? Then pay for it. People in Missouri don't get to enjoy the benefits of living in New England, so why should they have to pay for things when the going gets rough?

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Pharmaceutical Tyranny

Well, I don't have to say that healthcare in this country is messed up, because everybody knows it. Most of the discussion is about insurance and single-payer universal suffrage copayments blah blah blah. That's all important, but it's also really complicated.

What I find more intriguing (right now, at least) is the racket that is the pharmaceutical industry in America. With respect to the medicine we take (for even the most mundane of ailments), the FDA has a venerable stranglehold over our freedom to decide about whether we're qualified to decide. America has got to be one of the least-free nations in the world when it comes to having the liberty to determine for ourselves whether we need professional advice. The way things stand now, we don't have a choice. Even if we know exactly what we need, we still have to go to a doctor. Even if the visit lasts only four minutes.

Would you believe that, of all nations, France's prescription regulations are far less draconian? I know people that, when they go to France, will stock up on drugs like Zyrtec, which in France can be purchased over-the-counter, just like aspirin. Here, Zyrtec is available only with a prescription.

Similarly, after forgetting an extra pair of contact lenses on a trip to Germany (and briefly the Netherlands), I was able to buy contact lenses in Amsterdam in about ten minutes. I just told them my prescription and they gave me the contacts. No doctor appointment needed. Hardly the case in America, where I would have had to wait how many days or weeks for a routine appointment to tell me what I already knew, that I needed the same prescription I've needed for the last five years. And what's the difference if I buy contacts that are too weak or too strong. How could I hurt anyone? By staring at them for too long?

It's such a racket. Why can't we just decide for ourselves? Why can't we just get input from the pharmacists? I'm not saying we should all go out and take anything we want. But why can't we decide what we're qualified to decide about and what we need to go to doctors for? I know I need Zyrtec. I'll always need it during the summer because I'll always get allergies. I don't need a doctor to tell me that, as luck would have it, my allergies have continued!

Imagine how much healthcare costs would decline if we could eliminate the middleman (the doctor) for things like allergy medication, contact lens refills, acne medications, antacid-type medications, etc...

Update: Here's more complaining about how politicians (this time it's Republicans) insist on saving us from ourselves by keeping us ignorant.

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Political party websites

Since the Democrats have a newly-redesigned website, here's my ranking of the various political parties in the U.S. in order of quality of website design, from best to worst.
  1. Democratic Party
  2. Green Party
  3. Libertarian Party
  4. [Minnesota] Independence Party
  5. Republican Party
  6. Reform Party
  7. Constitution Party
  8. Democratis Socialists of America
  9. Socialist Party USA
  10. Whig Party
Just kidding about the Whig Party...I like them just because wigs are funny. I included the Minnesota Independence Party because it's [still] a major party in Minnesota and it's sort of a rebel offshoot of the Reform Party (it was founded by Jesse Ventura after his disgust with the Reform Party).

PDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

Neat site

Here's a neat site:

This is broken

They talk about, among other things, product design.

Update: Ironically, the above link is broken, so use this one instead.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005


I love this quote:
Individualism celebrates the life of each thing as essential in the life of all things.
It's from this essay by Crispin Sartwell, which I found from this story on The Agitator. The actual quote is, "It celebrates the life of each thing as essential in the life of all things," but 'it' is a pronoun referring to individualism, so I think the above quote is reasonable.